The highly anticipated first launch of SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket is finally here.
Touted as “the most powerful operational rocket in the world by a factor of two,” the Falcon Heavy launched from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla., on Tuesday at about 3:45 p.m. local time.
Here’s what to know about SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket.
What is the Falcon Heavy rocket?
The Falcon Heavy is a heavy-lift rocket producing up to 5.5 million lbs. of thrust in its first stage, with the ability to lift payloads up to 141,000 lbs. Whereas SpaceX’s smaller Falcon 9 rocket has nine engines, the Flacon Heavy has 27 — it’s essentially three Falcon 9 rockets strapped together.
Following the Falcon Heavy launch, SpaceX landed two of its nine-engine cores back on land and is waiting for the third to arrive. SpaceX has spent years developing a landing technique that allows the company to reuse rockets after launches, cutting down on costs.
When is the Falcon Heavy launch?
The Falcon Heavy launched on Tuesday, Feb. 6, at about 3:45 p.m. local time.
What’s on board the Falcon Heavy rocket?
Leave it to Elon Musk to find a way to use SpaceX’s historic rocket launch to promote his other ventures.
Aboard the Falcon Heavy is a cherry red Tesla Roadster, a recently unveiled design from his electric car company. The car’s stereo played David Bowie’s ‘Space Oddity’ during the launch and was equipped with three cameras.
The car “will be in deep space for a billion years or so if it doesn’t blow up on ascent,” Musk had said in a tweet.
Why is the Falcon Heavy launch important?
A successful Falcon Heavy launch would be a major milestone for the private spaceflight industry, and for humankind’s space exploration efforts at large. Musk is also hopeful that the Falcon Heavy can help SpaceX achieve its goal of lowering the price of sending large payloads into space, TIME’s Jeffrey Kluger writes:
But, as Kluger notes, that won’t be an easy task.